|The Australian teenager escaped a more lengthy sentence by promising to undergo drug rehabilitation [AFP]|
An Indonesian court has sentenced a 14-year-old Australian boy to two months in jail on the resort island of Bali, where he was caught with nearly seven grams of marijuana while vacationing with his family.
The boy, who wore a colourful Balinese shirt and a balaclava to hide his identity in court on Friday, will be free to return home on December 4 because he has already been detained on the island for almost eight weeks.
“We sentenced the defendant to two months’ jail, which will be reduced by the time he has already served,” judge Amser Simanjuntak told the Denpasar district court.
As a minor the boy, who bowed his head as the sentence was read, faced a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.
Prosecutors sought only a three-month term, saying that because the boy was so young he would likely change his behaviour.
The teen avoided a lengthier sentence by agreeing to undergo drug rehabilitation. He had admitted to having the drugs.
“The defendant has never committed any crime before. He has always been polite during hearings,” the judge said.
“He regretted the crime he committed. He promised to never repeat the same mistake and his parents have promised to send him to a rehabilitation centre as he is still in junior high school.”
The boy, who was arrested with 6.9 grams on October 4 in the tourist area of Kuta, where he was on holiday with his parents, arrived at the court with his father and six bodyguards from his lawyer’s office.
Despite the light sentence, the boy’s lawyer told the AFP news agency: “We are really disappointed with the judge’s ruling.”
“We had expected that the boy would be returned to his parents immediately to undergo a rehabilitation programme,” Muhammad Rifan said. “He will serve another seven days or so in jail.”
The boy’s father, donning a baseball cap and sunglasses, stood by his son during the trial, while the boy’s mother “was not strong enough” to attend, Rifan said.
The teenager’s legal team argued he belonged in rehabilitation rather than jail because he had a history of drug use.
They submitted letters from an Australian doctor and New South Wales state police describing him as a frequent user of marijuana.
A local psychologist also supported that argument, testifying earlier in the case and explaining that the boy used the drug because he was depressed and had sleeping problems.
Several Australians have been arrested for drug possession on Bali in recent years, including two traffickers on death row and six serving life sentences.